Family facing deportation gets six-month reprieve
WINDSOR, ONT. -- A family living in Windsor facing deportation is fearing for their lives if they're forced back overseas, but they’ve been given a temporary reprieve.
The Bakare family had a refugee claim denied after fleeing Nigeria over fears their newborn daughter would be subjected to the practice of female circumcision.
The family has been given another six months in Canada to make the case it's not safe for them to return to Nigeria.
They say they fled their country for Canada after having their first daughter and knowing she would be forced into a practice widely known as female genital mutilation.
“Ever since I've been here in Canada, I have a peaceful life. I've been working. I pay my taxes. My kids are going to school. I'm living a very good and comfortable life,” says Afeez Bakare.
His little girl Faiqah would have been subjected to the practice of female genital mutilation carried out in his Western Nigerian community, typically before a year of age.
They landed in Canada in November 2017. “We are very, very much grateful,” he says.
But the Bakares face deportation after a refugee claim was denied on the internal flight alternative basis, which says the family could find safe haven elsewhere in Nigeria. And now the family has grown to include a nearly two-year-old daughter born in Canada and another child on the way.
“Sending them back is not an option because their life is more in danger than ever at this point. Once they get there, they will use them as an example,” says Claude Saizonou, president of the African Community Organization in Windsor.
The group is helping the Bakares and other local families navigate the Canadian immigration system.
He says the Bakare's case is not an isolated one. "After the Bakare family, I believe so far right now we have at least 10."
The Bakare's immigration case worker, Nicole Arghandewal, says the family has tribal scars and believes the evidence will see officials keep them in Canada.
“These are really barbaric rituals so even just looking at their face, I do believe if everything is in front of the decision-maker bodies, they do have a strong case,” she says.
An appeal by Windsor West MP Brian Masse helped the Bakares get a six-month temporary residency permit.